Thursday 28 February 2013

Introducing: Souvenir Stand - Ronettes meets The Beach Beach Boys, Dreamy 60's style Pop from Stephanie Cupo

Stephanie Cupo from Souvenir Stand
Souvenir Stand is Stephanie Cupo's solo project turned Indie-Pop band. The songwriting aspect began to form while she was studying classical saxophone in college. The Beach Boys quickly became a prominent musical influence and time was soon split between saxophone study, songwriting at the piano, and exploring arranging and production. The result was a debut three track EP "Days I’ve Spent With You" which was made available for digital download on Bandcamp in June 2012. Next on the horizon is a cassette release "Days" via the UK Indie label Beautiful Strange, featuring a new analogue recorded single and accompanying music video (release date to be confirmed). Overall the sound reflects the influence of Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys in addition to The Zombies, Phil Spector productions, Duane Eddy, Bobbie Gentry, Aimee Mann, Nirvana, The White Stripes and Chalk and Numbers among countless others. Souvenir Stand has recently developed past just a solo studio endeavour and Stephanie has formed a live band that’s gearing up to play in NYC in early Spring 2013.

Some Review Quotes: “…60s styled beautiful, dreamy pop in the vein of the Beach Boys, had they been blessed with a female voice of course!”
- Ice Cream Man Power Pop and More!  

“…her soft and dreamy voice will send your heart all fluttery while the yesteryear melodies, effortlessly precise and pretty, fit perfectly with rose-tinted memories"
– Just Music That I Like 

The Songs certainly have that Ronettes meets the Beach Boys vibe about them, beautifully layered and arranged, so that they grow with repeated listens. It will be interesting to see how Stephanie can translate this into a live environment, so once the dates are announced and if you are in New York, please go along and support Stephanie and the band. You can keep in touch with all Souvenir Stand news by checking out their Facebook and Twitter sites.

Souvenir Stand's excellent EP "Days I've Spent With You" is available for download at their Bandcamp site. Here's a taster, the sublime title track itself...

With many thanks to Stephanie Cupo, Photos by Julianne Karr.

Monday 25 February 2013

Free Fall: Camden Dingwalls February 15th, The First London Show, Exclusive Paul Slattery Photographs

Free Fall (L-R Mattias Bärjed, Kim Fransson, Ludwig Dahlberg & Jan Martens) - Photo by Paul Slattery
Mattias Bärjed has certainly hit the ground running, it's not been long since The Soundtrack of Our Lives packed up their flight cases for the very last time - just before Christmas in fact - with their final shows at the Sodra Teatern in Stockholm. Now, his side project Free Fall, which has been bubbling under for the last couple of years, has developed into a fully formed and full time band in it's own right. A band that have just unleashed their stunning debut album "Power & Volume" in a blaze of positive media reaction. There have been numerous magazine, web-site and Blog features including a full page spread in Classic Rock magazine, all extolling the virtues of this Swedish rock "super-group". Tonight, the band were making their very first appearance in the U.K. as a low-key support to The Datsuns at Camden Dingwalls, and from talking to some people in the venue, it seemed a pleasant surprise for most to find out the calibre of the night's support band. It was certainly a great chance to catch the band at such an intimate place as I am sure next time they return it will be as headliners at much larger venues. 

Free Fall - Photo by Paul Slattery
The band, comprising Mattias on guitar, vocalist Kim Fransson, bassist Jan Martens and ex-International Noise Conspiracy drummer, Ludwig Dahlberg, took the stage and slammed straight into the superb opening number, "Free Fall". Now, Mattias has never hidden his admiration of The Who, this is after all a man who once upon a time proudly wore a Union Jack jacket when touring with The Soundtrack of Our Lives, and indeed the album's title is taken from a Pete Townshend quote. "Free Fall" is more of a nod to "Quadrophenia" era Who with it's frantically strummed guitar intro and unbelievably great bass playing from Jan Martens. As Mattias commented in a recent interview, "the only one who could play the bass like that is Jan, or John...! (Entwistle)".

Jan Martens of Free Fall - Photo by Steve Worrall
In fact a lot of Free Fall's songs are built around Jan's growling bass riffs, he has always been a superb player, you only have to listen to The Nymphet Noodlers "Going Abroad" album or "Pole Position" from The Jan Martens Frustration to realise that, but in Free Fall his inventive bass work is second to none. The band's mission statement comes next, "Power & Volume" is - sorry but I just have to use this word - "awesome", it has one of the fastest riffs I have ever heard and standing as I was, right at the front, I got the full force of Ludwig Dahlberg's depth-charge strength drumming right in the the chest. "Power & Volume" was the first song they ever wrote, apparently it originally started off based around an African drum beat but it has since mutated into a Motorhead-style thrash that takes the breath away. The next song, "Midnight Vulture" has a nice slow groove with Kim's voice not a million miles away from the throaty growl of Bon Scott.

Kim Fransson of Free Fall - Photo by Paul Slattery
Actually, there is a lot of that AC/DC groove in Free Fall, and similar to their Swedish counterparts Spiders, that goes a long way to making their music far more accessible to me, as I have never really been into the Heavy Rock genre. "Damnation" has a heavy thudding minimalist rhythm over which Mattias sprays his trademark guitar. Next up is "Top of The World" which is a fine uptempo number with a funky guitar riff and here the band hit their stride, proving they are going to develop into one of the best live acts on the circuit. The too-short set draws to a close with the new single "World Domination" and, while Mattias leaps and kicks on one side, Jan throws his bass about on the other and Ludwig drums up a storm behind him, this is where Kim really takes control. He is brought to his knees by the song's immense chorus as he stretches his voice in a mightily impressive display of raw rock and roll vocal pyrotechnics. Kim may look angelic but there is a devil lurking within! It was a great show, much better than when I saw them in Paris last year. There is a chemistry evident both on and off the stage and a confidence that is bound to grow when the band head off on their upcoming European Tour and get  to play shows more regularly. Check out Free Fall's Facebook page for news on tour dates, more reviews and info on how you can order the album.

Mattias Bärjed of Free Fall - Photo by Paul Slattery
Free Fall - Photo by Paul Slattery
Free Fall - Photo by Paul Slattery
Free Fall - Photo by Steve Worrall
Ludwig Dahlberg of Free Fall - Photo by Steve Worrall
Paul takes one for the team..! - Photo by Paul Slattery
You can listen to Mattias talking to us about his journey from The Nymphet Noodlers, to joining The Soundtrack of Our Lives, his successful Movie and TV soundtrack music right up to forming Free Fall, on this Special Edition Retrosonic Podcast.

Free Fall's debut album is out NOW on Nuclear Blast Records and available on vinyl, CD or download. You can see more photos, including backstage before and after the show shots, by "Liking" the Retro Man Blog Facebook page. There is a live video of "Damnation" up now on the Retro Man Blog YouTube Channel, which also features lots of The Soundtrack of Our Lives material.

Free Fall - Photo by Paul Slattery
With many thanks to Mattias, Ludde, Jan and Kim and also to The Datsuns. Photographs strictly copyright Paul Slattery 2013 and Steve Worrall Retro Man Blog 2013 as credited.

Sunday 24 February 2013

The Datsuns - Camden Dingwalls February 15th exclusive Paul Slattery Photographs

Christian from The Datsuns - Photo by Paul Slattery
I have to admit that Paul Slattery and I were at the gig primarily to see Free Fall, I didn't know that much about The Datsuns to be honest. I've seen them live once or twice before and have a couple of tracks here and there, but I'm not so up on their story or back catalogue. However, what I do know is that they are a phenomenal live band and I thoroughly enjoyed their high voltage set, as evidently did the packed out Dingwalls crowd. The gig was a complete sell-out, even though Free Fall were barely advertised, and outside the ticket touts were frantically trying to buy tickets themselves. There was much stage-diving and crowd-surfing as the band served up a frantic set of finely-tuned MC5, Hellacopters style freak-out rock. My personal highlight being the pounding anthem "Harmonic Generator" which lifted the roof off Dingwalls. I took up a safe position at the side of the stage but Paul was right in the thick of it, and he thoroughly enjoyed the experience! So, here are some of Paul Slattery's photo and a few of mine too, hope you like them...We'd both like to say a big thank you to The Datsuns for being so nice to us interlopers!

Phil and Dolf with blissed out crowd - Photo by Paul Slattery
The Datsuns - Photo by Paul Slattery
Christian, Ben and Dolf of The Datsuns - Photo by Paul Slattery
The Datsuns - Photo by Paul Slattery
The Datsuns by Steve Worrall
The Datsuns by Steve Worrall
The Datsuns by Steve Worrall
The Datsuns Photo by Steve Worrall
All photos Copyright Paul Slattery 2013 & Steve Worrall Retro Man Blog 2013 as noted.

Friday 22 February 2013

Introducing: The Chris Casey Combo '66

I thought I'd start off a new series of Blog features entitled "Introducing..." where I pick out the best of the International music that gets sent into us. We are contacted by many bands and artists that are either unsigned and trying to promote their own work, or they are already established on a label with a back catalogue of releases behind them. Either way, these are the ones that up until now have been unknown to me and are all making their first appearance on the Retro Man Blog. So, let's kick off the series by welcoming The Chris Casey Combo '66 to the Blog. Chris Casey is a super-talented guitarist, singer and songwriter from Stillwater, Oklahoma who, together with Colin Fleishacker on Bass and Toby Surratt on drums, make up the Combo '66. They play an eclectic mix of 60's influenced material, from Booker T. style instrumentals such as "Watch The Cloth, Moth" and "Suede Boot Groove", to some superb Mod Revival and Power Pop stylings, evident on songs such as "A Bit Better". One song, "Jo Jo Lee" is built around a "Tax Man" bass riff with a catchy chorus that melds into a great Psychedelic guitar freak-out. "19th Rant" is one of my favourites, a Bluesy little number with a Soulful swing. "Long Cold Crawl" and "Girl For Action" are lean, perfectly formed Garage pop nuggets. The band have also been championed by DJ Alan May on his excellent Glory Boy show on 6Towns Radio, so tune in on Sundays from 7pm to hear more. Please check out Chris Casey and his great music, and hopefully we will feature more news on the Blog as and when it happens.

Check out Chris Casey Combo '66 at their Soundcloud page. Here's a taster, the great "19th Rant"...

Monday 18 February 2013

The Galileo 7 "Staring at The Sound"

The latest album from The Galileo 7 entitled "Staring at The Sound" (State Records), along with a single featuring two non-album tracks "Modern Love Affair"/"Can't Get Away From Myself", are both available now from the band's official Store. As an original member of the legendary band, The Prisoners, along with The Solarflares, James Taylor Quartet, The Prime Movers, Thee Headcoats, Fay Hallam's Phaze and more recently, The Stabilisers, Allan Crockford has played an important, if somewhat, low-key part in establishing the Medway's reputation as a hotbed for spirited, uncompromising garage rock with a strong DIY ethic. Playing with such Medway notables as Graham Day, Billy Childish and James Taylor, he was often seen as the reliable sideman for more flamboyant figures. Now he has found a late flowering talent for writing his own material, and The Galileo 7 were formed to play the songs he had been storing up for the last 3 or 4 years. The band are completed by bassist Mole (from the Higher State, State Records etc), Viv Bonsels on 60's Teisco combo organ, and drummer Russ Baxter, who also plays for Secret Affair. While the band still has the trademark Punk Rock ('66 and '76 versions) fire and energy that marks out the Medway sound, there are extra elements in the music that shifts it away from the trademark it pop-psych, punkadelic, powerpop or whatever you like. If it's energy you're after you won't be disappointed, but there are also tunes and harmonies by the bucket-load to guarantee that these songs hang around in your head long after the initial sonic impact has faded.

"Staring at The Sound" kicks off with "Anne Hedonia" which sounds like it could have been on "The Who Sell Out". Come to think of it, that album is probably a good reference point for The Galileo 7, a band stretching their boundaries, from rough and ready R'n'B roots to incorporating more of a Psychedelic influence. However, there's no losing the rawness, the bubblegum harmonies and the catchy melodies. "The Only One You're Hurting" would make a great single, it starts with acoustic guitar and a swirling organ run and develops into a lovely pop song, in fact the sun has just come out as I am listening to it, it's that kind of song! The powerful fuzzed up guitars of "The Man Who Wasn't There" leads into the catchy "More Time", which is based around an acoustic Pete Townsend style riff. "Paradise" is a slow keyboard led piece and "Waiting To Cross" is an up-tempo number underpinned with phased strings. The album's title track reminds me a bit of early Blur, probably as Galileo 7 have a very British sound, there are hints of Nirvana (the Patrick Campbell-Lyons 60's version...), Syd Barrett era Pink Floyd and Julian Cope. This Britishness is particularly evident on "Hiding From The Sun" which is a lovely pastoral piece with a nice flute line flowing through it. "Not Gonna Miss You" puts the guitar riff from R.E.M.'s "Pop Song" through the blender and "Leave Me Alone" is a short, melodic and whimsical number. "Don't Fly Too High" is a great song, with it's powerful guitars and bass line that could have been on "Revolver". The album draws to a satisfying close with "Ella" with catchy backing vocal harmonies and stabbing organ. The album is maybe not quite as immediate as their fantastic debut, "Are We Having Fun Yet?" (Teen Sound Records), but repeated listens uncover a thoroughly satisfying and well rounded album full of warmth and most-importantly, some damn great songs.

The Galileo 7 will play at Brixton Jamm on March 16th at a show promoted by the on-line music magazine Penny Black Music along with Dave Harding, T.O.Y.S. and Ten.

As a little bonus, photographer Paul Slattery has dusted down some rare prints of The Prisoners at The Hope & Anchor on March 23rd 1983...featuring Allan on bass.

The Prisoners Photographs Copyright Paul Slattery 2013
You can hear a track from The Galileo 7 on the new Retrosonic Podcast Episode 6 here:  

With many thanks to Allan Crockford and Paul Slattery.

Monday 11 February 2013

Free Fall - The first UK appearance Friday February 15th at London Camden Dingwalls

Free Fall, the Swedish Heavy Rock "Super-Group", will be making their very first live U.K. appearance this Friday, February 15th at Dingwalls in Camden, London as support to The Datsuns.

Free Fall's debut album "Power & Volume" is out on February 22nd on Nuclear Blast Records. Free Fall were started by guitarist Mattias Bärjed – while playing guitar with The Soundtrack of Our Lives - as he felt the urge to form a classic four piece band (drums, guitar, bass, lead vocals), that would play straight-up heavy Rock 'n' Roll. As far as a musical direction, there was a clear intention to sound like a mix between early Van Halen, The Stooges and The Who. Other obvious influences on the band would be rock classics such as Led Zeppelin, UFO, AC/DC and Judas Priest to name a few. First in line to join the band was long time friend and ex-Nymphet Noodlers band-mate Jan Martens on Bass, who was to be joined shortly after by Drummer, Ludwig Dahlberg (ex-International Noise Conspiracy and Mattias Hellberg's White Moose). The last and very vital piece of the Free Fall puzzle was lead singer Kim Fransson, who has that raw vocal style of Steve Marriott and Bon Scott.
Free Fall live in Paris - Photo by Steve Worrall
The latest issue of Classic Rock magazine has a full page feature on the band and the track "Free Fall" is at Number One on their "Heavy Rotation" chart. You can also check out the Retro Man Blog review of Free Fall's May gig at La Gaîté Lyrique, Paris here and read all about Mattias Bärjed's soundtrack to the new political thriller "Call Girl" here. Also available to listen to and download for free is our exclusive interview with Mattias on this very special edition of Retrosonic Podcast.

Free Fall Photos on the flyer copyright Steve Worrall Retro Man Blog 2013.